FIVE COMES ALIVE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
BMW's M5 Competition model defines what a super saloon should be. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 118
BMW's M5 is the yardstick against which all serious performance saloons are judged, a car that in sixth 'F90' generation form gets all-wheel drive for the first time. The company insists that the bespoke 'M xDrive' set-up is compatible with its brand values: it's certainly needed to control the prodigious output of this model's refettled 600hp 4.4-litre V8. A trick rear diff gets the power to the tarmac, there's an uprated auto gearbox and a myriad of drive mode settings to make this the most configurable performance car on the planet. Plus this 'Competition'-spec model gets all the things you'd have ideally have wanted to add to the standard version. Munich, it seems, has thought of almost everything.
Backgroundword count: 203
BMW invented the executive super saloon with their M5 and though Audi's RS6 and AMG versions of Mercedes' E-Class have offered stiff competition in recent years, for many, this remains the definitive motorsport-bred business blaster. Time to rate this 'F90'-series sixth generation version. From the outset in 1984, this model line was all about straight six power, normal aspiration and rear wheel drive but over the years, all these original staples have evolved as BMW seeks to reinterpret what the ultimate super saloon should be. A V8 engine arrived for the 'E39' third generation version in 1998. And turbocharging was adopted for this current car's fifth generation 'F10'-series predecessor in 2011. Now at last, we've got 4WD too, though BMW reassures us that you can turn it off if you want and slide the back around. Which is nice... The main reason all-wheel drive traction is needed lies with the news that engine output from the twin turbo V8 unit that's carried over here has now reached 625hp in this 'Competition' guise - 64hp more than before. We're here to put it all to the test - and enjoy a fresh chapter in the history of one of our favourite high performance standard-setters.
Driving Experienceword count: 341
We've tested every generation of M5 over the last thirty five years - but nothing quite like this sixth 'F90'-series incarnation. The big news this time round is the addition of 4WD to the package, an M xDrive system incorporated in such a way as to only activate additional drive to the front wheels in extremis, so keeping this BMW's essentially rear-driven character. There's a selectable track-orientated 2WD-only driving mode if you really want to throw the back around. Power is provided by the most potent engine ever devised by BMW's high performance M division, a revised version of the 4.4-litre V8 unit used by the previous 'F10'-series model. In standard form, thanks to a sharper set of twin turbos, a new cooling system, a revised exhaust and higher injection pressures, it puts out 600hp - 40hp more than before - but that figure has been uprated to 625hp in the case of the uprated 'Competition' variant, the only one now on offer. This powerplant doesn't quite have the thundery bluster of the AMG V8 used in this M5's Mercedes E 63 arch-rival, even if the optional M Sport-tuned tail pipes are fitted. But its output is now certainly a match for that Stuttgart saloon, as are the performance figures, which see 62mph from rest taking just 3.3s in this Competition model en route to a top speed that when de-restricted will take you to 190mph. That's Ferrari-fast. But of course a two-tonne super saloon isn't going to change direction with the agility of that Maranello model. Or so you'd think. Actually, the M5 does an astonishingly good job of disguising all that bulk, aided hugely by the Active M differential that varies torque across the M-specific back axle. And by the extent to which you can set the car up to your exact driving preferences via short-cut buttons and an 'M-configuration' that allows you to alter stability settings, engine response, suspension and steering feel and timings for the torque-converter 8-speed 'M Steptronic' auto transmission that's been introduced this time round.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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